Staunton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Barnas Sears, Woodrow Park, & Sears Hill Neighborhood
He became the agent of the Peabody Educational Fund created by George Peabody of Massachusetts to dispense funds throughout the Southern and Southwestern states to establish free public education after the Civil War.
From the frame Victorian cottage constructed on the hill overlooking the train station, Dr. Sears travelled across much of the nation from Virginia to Texas for 13 years making grants to schools of over $3.4 million "for the intellectual, moral, or industrial education among the young."
(NOTE: This house is a private residence and not part of the park.)
This board-and-batten house was constructed in 1866 by Dr. Robert Madison and sold in the next year to Barnas Sears who added the tower. The dwelling reflects the influence of the picturesque cottage and villa designs of the 19th century horticulturist, A. J. Downing. His nationally published work in 1850, The Architecture of Country
Sears Hill Neighborhood
The Sears Hill Neighbbrhood largely developed over a 65-year-span. Period newspapers recount stories of community celebrations punctuated by bonfires and cannon shots from Sears Hill. In the early 19th century, the area was also noted as Garber's Hill, Stuart's Hill, and Oak Hill. Early homes belonged to Barnas Sears, Newton Argenbright, and J.J. Lad. Surrounding properties were owned and later developed in three distinct periods by prominent Staunton landowners Jedediah Hotchkiss, Alexander H.H. Stuart, Captain G.G. Gooch, Captain James and Caroline Marquis, and H.L. Partlow.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the lots and streets of Sears Hill took shape upon subdivision and sale of larger land holdings. The neighborhood developed with a grid pattern of streets, bounded by brick sidewalks and alleyways. Constructed mostly of wood frame, the homes are vernacular adaptations of popular architectural styles. Shingle clad gables, hip roofs with bracketed eaves, clapboard siding, and single-story porches with turned-and pattern-sawn balustrades all relate to Victorian styles.
As noted in the 1885 Historical Atlas of Augusta County, Virginia, engineers,
This four acre wooded hillside was purchased by the City of Staunton in 1927 for approximately $9,000 and included the historic Sears House. A local citizen, Charles Catlett, previously encouraged the City to purchase the Sears Hill property to he acquired as a possible future school site. He had deeded the Betsy Bell property to the City to be used as a public park and his family was very interested and involved in several similar civic projects.
By 1936, the City had cleared some of the acreage for a playground and in the 27th Annual Report of the City of Staunton, the area was known as Woodrow Park for the first time in local records.
It is unclear how the park was named, but there are two local theories. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who was born in Staunton, was the son of Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Jessie Woodrow Wilson. Her maiden name of Woodrow became the middle name of President Thomas
• Historical information from files of Historic Staunton Foundation and the City of Staunton Department of Parks & Recreation.
• Sanborn Map image courtesy of EDR, Shelton, CN
• Text Edits by Katharine Brown & Nancy Sorrells
• Plaque design by Frazier Associates, Architects & Planners.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Education • Parks & Recreational Areas. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #28 Woodrow Wilson series list.
Location. 38° 8.826′ N, 79° 4.357′ W. Marker is in Staunton, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Middlebrook Avenue (Virginia Route 252) west of South Augusta Street, on the left when traveling south. Marker is located along the walkway on the south (uphill) side of the Sears Hill Bridge, behind the Staunton Railroad Depot. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Middlebrook Avenue, Staunton VA 24401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sears Hill Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); History of the C&O Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Staunton Historic Districts (within shouting distance of this marker); Staunton (within shouting distance of this marker); Beyer Print of Staunton (within shouting distance of this marker); Staunton’s Wharf Historic District History (within shouting distance of this marker); Main Passenger Terminal (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. Alexander Humphreys (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Staunton.
Also see . . .
1. Barnas Sears (Wikipedia). Sears was the general agent of the Peabody Education Fund who was sent to Staunton, Virginia, by George Peabody to offer leadership in Public Education. He settled in Staunton because of the easy access to the railroad. (Submitted on May 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Sears House (Wikipedia). … features long, shallow-scrolled roof brackets, a three-bay arcaded front porch, and a three-story octagonal-ended tower covered by a shallow hipped roof with dentiled cornice. It was the home of Dr. Barnas Sears, a prominent educator, who owned and occupied (Submitted on May 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 28, 2019. It was originally submitted on May 27, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 230 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.